Price paid: $ 280
Purchased from: Pawnshop
Sound — 8
I bought this guitar without hearing it on an amp. Rookie mistake, I know lucky for me, it sounds great. I've been dinking around on a crummy little Crate amp, but I'd love to get a big Fender tube amp if I can ever overcome the crippling poverty that seems to affect all of us college students. Damn. This guitar would definitely deserve it! Even on the little Crate I get rich, warm tone from the two dual-coil pickups. It's not going to give you high screams like a Telecaster for your lead work, but it's got a great sound nonetheless.
Overall Impression — 8
I'm not too experienced (been playing about two years) and don't really have my own style yet. However, I've played some nice guitars, and for sheer enjoyment the Firebrand is on par with my friend's Strat but for about a third of the price. I think I got a damn good deal: it has great sound, a great look, obvious durability and the legendary Gibson name to back it. If this baby were stolen I'd definitely try to find another one. It's just an all-around good guitar.
Reliability & Durability — 10
As I said, it's from 1980 and everything is original. A few nicks here and there, but nothing severe. Were I good enough to play gigs, I'd definitely rely on this baby. (I'd take a backup, but just in case of a broken string.) It's one heavy-duty instrument.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
Can't really judge this one. The guitar is older than I am, and was over 20 years out of the factory by the time I first laid eyes on it. However, assuming that the previous owner(s) didn't screw with too much, the folks at Gibson did a nice job. I haven't changed a thing except to restring it.
Features — 8
That's right, a Firebrand, not a Firebird. Pretty rare guitar as far as I can tell. Mine was made in 1980 in Memphis, Tennessee. It's not really a Les Paul, but it has the best of both worlds: the Les Paul single-cutaway, but the thin, contoured body of the SG. Weighs less than a regular Les also. It's all walnut, with a natural finish (and some pitting and scars now that it's getting up there in years). It's got the Les Paul control knobs: two volume, two tone. However, the 3-way selector Switch was moved so it's down by the knobs. Two exposed dual-coil pickups, Grover tuners. Headstock seems larger than usual for a Gibson. No scalloped frets (for you Steve Vai types), no whammy bar and no pickguard.